In the long run Liverpool and Manchester United’s rivalry makes no difference:


The 1998 World Cup squad that Scholes was named in included 3 Liverpool players (Paul Ince, Michael Owen and Steve McManaman), 4 Man Utd players (Gary Neville, Teddy Sheringham, David Beckham and Scholes) and 3 Arsenal players (David Seaman, Tony Adams and Martin Keown) and just Graeme Le Saux from Chelsea. That’s just 11 players from the top 4 clubs in the league, less than half the squad. I make that three ‘Manc’s’, if you include Leytonstone-born Beckham and two ‘Scousers’ in that squad, if you include Chester-born Owen.

The Euro 2000 squad that Scholes was part of included 4 Man Utd players (Gary and Phil Neville, David Beckham and Scholes), 3 Arsenal players (Keown, Adams and Seaman), 3 Liverpool players (Steven Gerrard, Michael Owen, Robbie Fowler), although McManaman and Ince had also been included and just Nigel Martyn from Leeds from the top 4 in the league. If you factor in Ince and McManaman, that’s 13 players, if you don’t it’s 11 players – again, less than half the squad. I make that around four apiece ‘Scouser’s’ and ‘Manc’s’.

The World Cup 2002 squad included – 4 Arsenal players (Seaman, Keown, Sol Campbell and Ashley Cole), 2 Liverpool players (Owen and Emile Heskey), 4 Man Utd players (Beckham, Scholes, Wes Brown and Nicky Butt) and just Kieron Dyer from Newcastle from the league’s top 4. Again, that’s 11 players, less than half the squad and only 4 that you could classify as Manc’s and just 2 as Scousers with Fowler and, at a push, Chester-born Owen.

Euro 2004 – Arsenal 2 (Ashley Cole, Sol Campbell), Chelsea 4, (John Terry, Wayne Bridge, Joe Cole and Frank Lampard), Man Utd 3 (Butt, Scholes and Gary Neville) and Liverpool 3 (Gerrard, Owen and Jamie Carragher) from the top 4 in the league. That’s 12 altogether, 13 if you included Beckham, so roughly just over half the squad. I make that 3 Scouser’s if you include Owen and 5 Manc’s if you include Beckham.

After looking at the squads Scholes was involved in at major international torunaments, it’s fair to say that with concerns to numbers, he’s talking utter twaddle. Admittedly, some were key members in the side, but with concerns to his claim that “some of our lads didn’t like some of their boys and some of their lad’s didn’t like some of us”, the numbers are so small that it’s barely worth mentioning. Any international squad in the world is likely to be made up of player’s from the best club’s in their respective domestic league – putting aside petty club differences is something every international squad has to go through and England are no different.

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Just so you know, Spain‘s 2010 World Cup squad included 5 Real Madrid players, 7 Barcelona players, 4 Valencia players and one Sevilla player, Jesus Navas. That’s 17 players of a 23-man squad that came from the top 4 clubs in La Liga that season. There was also room for Madrid-born and former Barcelona player Pepe Reina, former Barcelona youth-team player Cesc Fabregas and Catalonian-born former Espanyol player Joan Capdevilla. So just Fernando Llorente and Javier Martinez out of 23 players named in the squad had neither played for or was born near Real Madrid and Barcelona. When you put Spain’s success into context, it simply makes Scholes’s claims all the more irrational.

Scholes’s reasoning simply reeks of another excuse being trotted out for what should ultimately go down as a rudimentary lack of professionalism and a failure to perform at the highest level from a talented group of players. We’re not asking you to like everyone that you play alongside, Paul, but you have to respect each other’s ability to get the job done.

For most players and people, myself included too, it is most definitely a case of club over country, so to an extent, I can understand where Scholes is coming from, but the reasoning behind it still seems tenuous at best, outright pathetic at worst.

If you’re wondering about the timing and importance of such quotes, for a once famously shy and retiring footballer as Scholes, then look no further than his recently released autobiography ‘Paul Scholes – My Story’ and England‘s upcoming fixture against Montenegro.

He was the best player of his generation, there’s no doubt about that, but perhaps Scholes should focus more on the coaching for the time being as opposed to the punditry, for the opinions that he’s voiced so far have been fatally flawed and offer little more than a revisionist way of adjusting the past to suit the present.

Written by James McManus for

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